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Recipes of China: Taiwanese Beef Roll from Pine & Crane

By Clarissa Wei

July 27, 2017
A plate with Taiwanese beef rolls from Pine & Crane
Clarissa Wei learns to make Pine & Crane’s Taiwanese beef rolls

Foodie Clarissa Wei rolls into Silver Lake to share an LA take on a Taiwanese classic.

In Los Angeles, there are few Taiwanese restaurants that excel outside of the San Gabriel Valley, but Pine & Crane is a proud exception. Owned by Taiwanese-American Vivian Ku, the Silver Lake eatery is an homage to her family’s Taiwanese culinary roots. Ku’s grandfather used to own a noodle factory, and she has relatives who are restaurants owners in Taiwan.

“One of the greatest things for me to see when I’m working here is all the different groups of people that will come here and dine together,” Ku says. “Taiwanese food has become very accessible. We try to see our service as a value added to the community.”

Keeping the Silver Lake crowd in mind, the restaurant is adamant on quality ingredients, especially vegetables. The tofu is organic, pickles are made in-house, and the beef shanks are braised for two hours until they become tender and ooze with juice. Ku’s family uses seasonal vegetables grown in their local vegetable farms to supply fresh produce to the restaurant. Her emphasis on using first-rate ingredients is what sets her restaurant apart from the motley crew of Taiwanese restaurants across the Southland. She’s focused on seasonality while staying true to Taiwanese flavors.

The interior of Pine & Crane
The interior of Pine & Crane

A classically trained chef, Ku honed her skills at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), but it was her extensive research trip to Taiwan that helped her perfect the recipes.

“Asian cooking is a lot different from Western cooking and French techniques,” Ku says. She spent a month in Taiwan and shadowed her relatives, many of whom provided her recipes that are used today.

Ku was kind enough to share her recipe for the beef roll—a Taiwanese burrito, if you will. It’s a deep-fried scallion pancake on the outside, wrapped around beef shanks, cucumbers, and more scallions. The hoisin sauce is what binds it together and gives the roll its signature umami taste. This is a dish that’s prevalent throughout Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes the skin is too thick, sometimes the sauce is too salty. Pine & Crane’s version is ideal. It’s well-balanced and is best ordered as an appetizer to share.

Taiwanese Beef Roll

Cooking time: 3 hours

Makes 4-6 rolls

Ingredients:

Braised Beef:

  • 2 pieces beef shank
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 6 dried chilis
  • 3 cups soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup rock sugar
  • 1/2 bunch scallions
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 4-6 slices ginger

Spices:

  • 6-8 pieces star anise
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 pieces Chinese licorice
  • 3 pieces black cardamom
  • 1 tsp fennel
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn

Sauce:

  • 3 fl. oz hoisin sauce
  • 3 fl. oz braising liquid

Garnishes:

  • 2 cucumbers, julienned
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Wrap:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of warm water (around 110-120 degrees F)
  • 2 tsp canola oil
Directions:

To braise the beef:

  1. Boil the beef shank in a pot large enough to submerge the beef shank in water. Boil for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the beef and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tsp of canola oil in pot over medium-high heat. Sauté ginger, scallions, dried chilis until fragrant. Add in all the spices, rice wine, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rock sugar, and white pepper. Place the beef back in and add enough water to submerge the beef.
  4. Braise gently for 2 hours or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  5. Slice beef and set aside.
  6. Pass the braising liquid through a strainer. Reserve braising liquid for sauce.

To make the sauce:

Combine equal parts braising liquid and hoisin sauce. Mix until smooth.

To make the wrap:

  1. Combine the flour and water, and knead until smooth and pliable. You may need to adjust the dough slightly with either more flour or water. The dough should neither be sticky, nor dry. Set your finished dough onto a lightly floured surface and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Roll your dough out into a large rectangular shape and brush the entire surface lightly with oil.
  3. Starting from the bottom of the rectangle, start rolling upwards until you reach the top. Your dough should now be in the shape of a log.
  4. Divide the dough into smaller pieces, weighing approximately 3 oz each, or roughly the size of a fist. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, press down on your small piece of dough and roll into a circular shape, roughly the thickness of a nickel. Lightly flour each piece and stack onto a sheet tray with plastic film in between and on top. Place in the freezer until ready to use.
  6. When ready to use, heat up 2 tsp canola oil on a griddle or large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Pan should be hot but not smoking. Place the flour wrap onto the griddle or into the pan. Turn once. Dough should be golden brown on one side and just cooked on the other side.

To assemble:

  1. With the golden brown side down, brush 1 tbsp of sauce evenly onto the wrap.
  2. Remove the beef and set aside.
  3. Evenly layer the beef shank slices onto the wrap.
  4. Evenly layer cucumber, cilantro, and scallions as desired.
  5. From the bottom, roll towards the top.
  6. Slice and enjoy!

Pine & Crane: 1521 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Hungry for more? Follow Clarissa’s journey through China as she uncovers authentic dishes and cultural insight.

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